the homogeneous principle that 'like attracts like' has been intentionally affecting our churches for well over a decade now, but it has been part of the dna of church for a LOT longer than that. nevertheless, is it, as an intentional, formal, chosen pathway....a good thing?
when i was a youth leader at church, we took our young people to what must have been one of the first specifically designated 'youth' churches in the country. we thought this was a good idea...and it probably was. our young people loved it, we loved it, it was like church on speed. for us. it probably wasn't like that for them all the time. for us it was a bit like going to soul survivor and then dealing with the youth expecting church to be like that all the time.
but i hadn't realised at the time that this was a new type of church. for us this was a 'youth event' that we took our kids there on a friday night, but it was never meant to replace 'church'. now, of course, i'm old and wise, and i realise that we were all on the cusp of a fresh expressions explosion and this was the beginning of that.
i began to wonder what it was like for those young people, attempting to build the kind of community that must be part of being church - and these 'tourists' would turn up every so often and treat it like a show. i'm sure we weren't the only ones. i suspect HTB have the same problem. but i digress.
and when i began to think about it...the idea of a church community that was specifically designed to only be open to one particular type of person, i found myself discomfited. surely that's not the idea of church? is it healthy for a church to be simply full of the same type of person? as an intentional act?
it may be that this is what happens in our churches by default. this bothers me too. but that is somewhat different from intentionally excluding people - it can be just as unhealthy of course and when we think we're inclusive but are actually unintentionally excluding people, that can be more difficult to change, as a culture in a church. but it's not the same as setting up a church that is *explicitly* exclusive.
of course, we do congregate with people who are like us, this, i've discovered is a universal human behaviour. but then that's not church. church is for jerusalem, judea, samaria and the ends of the earth.
so, am i being naive?
i wouldn't want to stop us having groups that facilitate growing into church together, for our young people, our old people, our...whatever people/insert here. but i'm not sure that any group that is *only* for such and such set of people, can ever really be defined as 'church'.
what d'you think?